When did TikTok turn into a shopping mall?

The video app is starting to look a little less like social media and a little more like QVC.

Have you noticed that your TikTok For You page has fewer cute animal videos and way more stuff for sale?

A blonde woman in a blue dress holding two shopping bags with the TikTok logo on the front smiling at her cellphone.

Same — and we miss the puppies. TikTok Shop launched in September, and things haven’t quite been the same since.

It brought with it a dedicated shop tab to the app’s home screen, live shopping, shoppable ads, and creator affiliate programs.

  • In November, US users spent ~$363m on TikTok Shop purchases, up from $260m in October.
  • The platform has ~200k merchants and ~100k creators selling through its affiliate program.

And with 150m app users in the US alone, a shop tab on every FYP means a lot of new customers for brands and creators alike.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows

TikTok Shop’s 2023 losses were estimated to have surpassed $500m. While that might sound bad, it pales in comparison to the $110B+ in sales parent company ByteDance earned in 2023.

This year, TikTok is eyeing brick and mortar, with plans to open studios where creators can livestream and sell products to their followers.

The studios, slated to open in several cities starting with Los Angeles, are modeled after Douyin, a Chinese short-form video app also owned by ByteDance whose ecommerce arm makes $200B a year.

Needless to say…

… not everyone is crazy about the shopping takeover. And TikTok’s growth, while still on the rise, has slowed, with some wondering if the shop is to blame.

For those who aren’t fans, we have bad news: TikTok is testing a feature that would make all posts shoppable using tech that automatically identifies featured objects and directs users to find similar ones in the app’s shop.

With TikTok already going the way of QVC, we can only assume that infomercials are right around the corner — and we’ve been dreaming of that Marvin’s Magic pen set since the ’90s.

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Topics: Tiktok Shopping

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